Proposition and Consequence
For a while, silence reigned over Arceus’ Chamber. The Legendaries looked at each other in mute shock before redirecting their gazes at the spot their father had disappeared from. None of them really thought that Deoxys was capable of such power, even when they considered the fact that he had survived a travel through space. To break through Mew’s barrier (or obliterate it, as some of them saw it) was something only a select few could hope to manage. And then, they realized with a start, he had enough power still to hold his own against Rayquaza, the most ruthless of their brethren. It wasn’t until the psychic remnants of Arceus’ portal settled to the floor and disappeared that a deity finally spoke.
“That alien,” Ho-Oh managed to say, her regal features stuck somewhere between fury and awe. “That alien…” She trailed off, not knowing how to put what just happened into words. Instead, Ho-Oh straightened and screeched to her kin, “See what this Deoxys is capable of?! He bypassed Mew’s barrier, faced Rayquaza, and lived to tell about it!” Lugia quieted his sister and decided to continue the declaration in a calmer manner.
“Deoxys is powerful. Dare I say it, as powerful as some of us here. Now that we know what he’s capable of, do we still want him on Earth?”
The trio master directed his last question towards Mew and Celebi, the only ones not gathered around the center. Now, though, both pixies rose into the air and hovered above their siblings. The creases in their brows and the firmness of their chins had not changed since Arceus named them the Council’s temporary leaders.
“Do you not see?” Mew asked of his brothers and sisters with a slight shake of his head. “Did you not hear Arceus’ words as he projected them to our minds? Deoxys’ fate has already been sealed; Father decided upon having the alien join us as a Pokémon. Is there any use in foregoing this meaningless debate?”
None could deny Arceus’ words just as no one could deny his fatherly nature. With what Deoxys had been through, Arceus was sure to treat him as his own child; even some of the Legends sympathized for Deoxys’ wounds and shook their heads at their brother’s horribly violent nature.
“Now,” Celebi announced, stoic expression morphing into a satisfied smirk. “Mew and I have a more pressing matter to attend to, one that involves humans rather than Pokémon. I am, of course, talking about Purgatory.”
With all eyes on her, the time manipulator ascended and seated herself on a pillar’s top. Feeling very much like a queen upon her throne, she nonchalantly waved a hand in the air. “Purgatory, as we all know, is a world separate from our fair Heaven,” Celebi motioned to the Hall of Origin, the center of the world above the clouds, “and from Earth.”
As Mew joined Celebi at her side, Jirachi floated back towards the shadows and pursed her lips in disapproval. They were delivering their “proposal” as though reciting a script. Exactly for how long were they thinking about this?
“Purgatory,” Mew continued, unaware of the wish granter’s thoughts, “is used to hold human souls until their one-on-one Judgment with Arceus. Will they be reincarnated as humans, as Pokémon, forced to be the servants of Death’s minions, allowed permanent residence in Heaven, or destroyed?”
Mew’s becoming playful,
Jirachi noted, the pillars’ shadows hiding her scowl. Which means he’s enjoying whatever they’re planning.
“However, despite the efforts of Arceus, Death, and his Dusknoir guards,” contempt rang when Mew mentioned the Grim Reaper then quickly disappeared, “too many souls are accumulated in the dimension, and with more and more humans dying in their Region War in Johto, souls are going to spend centuries in Purgatory. Those of sinful humans get worse, and those of the pure are stained by them.”
“Our proposition,” Celebi picked off before the Legendaries could speak, “is to destroy those sinful souls without Arceus’ Judgment, thus sparing the pure and keeping Purgatory orderly.”
Jirachi could feel her jaw dropping open in shock and outrage. Before she banish the surprise and react, Darkrai chuckled hollowly.
“I must say,” he remarked, sounding as gleeful and snide as Celebi had moments ago. “That has to be the most remarkable idea either of you have ever proposed.”
Cresselia frowned at the smile her counterpart wore. Their relationship had always been shaky, for their views conflicted since their creation, and now, she cocked her head with a cynical glare. “Enlighten me on exactly how this idea is so magnificent,” she commanded dryly.
The Dark-type didn’t miss the look. Instead of countering with his own, sarcastic remark, he spoke while motioning with his hands, “A sinful soul will always be a sinful human, even when their memories are wiped when reincarnated.” It wasn’t fact but merely his opinion. To his advantage, it was also Cresselia’s, who always looked out for humanity to try and keep them all as pure as possible. “Do you want those sinful souls to be reincarnated again and again to plague towns and cities? If what Mew says is true, pure souls will turn sinful in Purgatory, which will just make this cycle deadlier.”
The Lunar Pokémon, for the first time in a long while, could not find something in Darkrai’s words to complain or correct. Cresselia tilted her head in thought until she finally found the words she was looking for. She agreed with everything he said, but that didn’t mean she had to admit it so bluntly. “There might be truth to your words, Darkrai,” she carefully said (Cresselia saw the Pitch-Black Pokémon give an all-knowing grin). “But how do we go about deciding which souls have sinned? Arceus has been the solve giver of Judgments since time began.”
Again Jirachi opened her mouth to speak, and again her chance was snatched away.
“Isn’t it obvious?” Ho-Oh asked loudly, slightly annoyed. “Mew and Celebi have already thought about that. They are the ones who are going to make those extra Judgments. Arceus is likely to say yes, seeing as how they are his first created.”
“Do you have any other candidates in mind?” Mew offered, arms crossed.
The phoenix chuckled and shook her head. “No I don’t, so you don’t have to get off your pedestal. As long as you don’t get rid of half of Purgatory’s population at once, I have no qualms.”
“Yes,” Cresselia agreed. “As long as the sinning souls are disposed of with no mass wipeout, I suspect that this will be very beneficial.”
“Sounds good, sounds good,” Manaphy chorused, no longer quiet now that the majority of the Legendaries agreed. She admired her older brothers and sisters and trusted their judgment more than her own.
“Enough! Absolutely not!” Jirachi finally cried, her long, butterscotch tassels billowing behind her like flames when she soared to the center of the chamber. Jirachi locked her eyes with Mew and Celebi (both unaffected by the dragger-like glare) and then to the rest of the Council. “You are proposing to destroy
souls, what Arceus reserves only for the truly horrible, to simply stop them from mingling with the ones you consider pure?! We cannot, will not, resort to a holocaust because of bias.”
The dual-type looked over to Shaymin, who was staring up at her with wide, green eyes. Jirachi’s confidence waned at the sight. Yes, her Grass-type friend was shy and timid when among the oldest Legendaries, but she still expected her to back her up. Still, Jirachi’s determined voice rang when she demanded, “Do you, Shaymin, also see that this is not the way to fix Purgatory? That this is a crazy notion!”
Though her snow-white face hid it well, the Gratitude Pokémon blanched. Shell-shocked, her stare automatically went to the two Legends running the show. Mew and Celebi simultaneously raised brows, challenging the smallest of their siblings to defy them. Their cold, stony expressions made Shaymin shirk back. They were centuries older than her, and every wise and powerful year shone in their narrowed eyes. Young and inexperienced as she was, was it smart to speak against them?
Turning, the hedgehog met Jirachi’s amber eyes. It wasn’t the betrayal in them that stung her heart but the plead that laid in their depths. To see Jirachi so vulnerable and knowing she was the cause was too much for Shaymin to bear. She guiltily lowered her eyes and said nothing.
“I will inform Arceus of our decision, then,” Mew announced. “Sinned souls will be Judged and disposed off in an orderly manner to bring order to Purgatory.” He paused and glanced at the chamber’s occupants. “This meeting is over. Thank you all for your time.”
Shaymin looked up, an apology forming on her lips, but Jirachi had already teleported away without a simple farewell.
Jirachi had never been one for violence, but the moment she got away from Heaven, she wanted to slam her fist against a wall again and again until it crumbled. Frustration, betrayal, and anger coursed through her veins like white fire, making the two wish tags on her headdress tremble. Fisting her hands, the Legend took a couple of deep breaths and calmed down. She was not Rayquaza or Ho-Oh, who resorted to violence when faced with blood-boiling situations. Jirachi was calm, level-headed, and dealt with problems in a rational manner.
With that mindset, the Steel-type looked around her, slightly comforted by the cave she called home sweet home. But again, she didn’t want to wallow in her emotions. There was a half-formed plan weaving in between her thoughts, one that she would have called desperate at any other time, and going through with it might help solve this mess. Jirachi flew past the glowing, green crystals embedded in the rocky walls, past the trickle of water that filled the small pond at the center of her home, and to the forest outside. Flying through the tree canopies that hid the cave entrance, she hovered at the edge of the thick forest.
Morning was breaking on the horizon, but the cluster of trees and their leafy foliage blocked out the thin rays of growing sunlight. The giant, deathly-still grass was covered in shadows as dark as the nearly-black trunks of the trees. Somewhere among all of the plants, there were Bug Pokémon; she could hear their morning chatter all around, like a never-ending symphony that did not want to be found. If the overgrown canopies didn’t cast enough of a shadow, the mountain in which her home was carved into blanketed the area in velvet-black.
“I’ll be back,” she told the forest and its unseen singers. A small part of her didn’t even want to go. It would be so easy to just go along with the rest of the Legends’ decision.
Then Jirachi remembered the conniving glint in Mew and Celebi’s eyes and dismissed the ridiculous idea.
She breathed in the smell of oak and rot before holding her short hands before her. Jirachi called upon every star, every moon, and every galaxy hidden behind the sun’s glare into the tips of her fingers. Power she had only wielded a handful of times flooded into her palms, lighting them up like miniature suns. Closing her eyes, the psychic envisioned the invisible veil that separated Earth from her destination. With the celestial energy in her hands, she brushed her fingers against the air and could feel the barrier. She felt death, sin, and the purity of all the souls that had passed from this world to the next. Goosebumps rose all along her arms; her wish tags stood on end.
Jirachi moved her hands counterclockwise, tracing a circle to carefully undo the seams of the barrier. Although her ability to manipulate space allowed her to do so, the barrier still fought her, screaming, You are not Death! You are not his servants! Why do you wish to enter, stranger?
But she kept on until she had completed the portal and left her home to enter Purgatory.
“I will not be long,” she told the portal. Through the beads of sweat that trickled down her forehead and into her eyes, she saw the tattered edges of the veil flapping, revealing and obscuring the forest scenery on the other side. With some flicks of her wrist, the edges slithered to the center of the opening and wound around themselves until only the light of Earth could be seen through the cracks. Though it was safer, she dared not completely close it; what if she was too tired to create a new portal after her business was taken cared of?
It wasn’t until she was sure that the gap between Purgatory and Earth was strong enough to keep souls and Pokémon out yet weak enough for someone of her power to re-open it without too much trouble that she noticed the odd sheen of red on her hands. Startled, she turned them but found it wasn’t blood. When the glow was seen on her abdomen and legs, Jirachi was quick enough to figure out that the source of color was coming from up above.
A scarlet and orange sky greeted her to this strange and new dimension. The wisps of gray that never seemed to move did nothing to remind her of the sky on Earth. Shaking her head to clear the cobwebs of gloom from her thoughts, Jirachi looked at either side of her. To her right, she saw a mountain range that she could not help but compare to Rayquaza’s fangs: sharp and a blood-stained garnet. Beneath the landmarks, there was nothing but barren fields of hard, cracked earth.
While the scene on the left wasn’t much better, there was some kind of spiral that reached for the sky. The hesitant Pokémon took off in that direction, knowing from talks with Arceus that Death lived in a tower of some sort. The flight was dreary and tedious, as there was nothing to see except mile after mile of desolate land. Once or twice, she could have sworn that she saw a human walking below her, but upon a second glance, the wandering soul was gone like the nonexistent wind in Purgatory. As though to reassure her that she wasn’t going crazy, she spotted Dusclops guards every couple of minutes. Their gray, stocky bodies stuck out like sore thumbs over the yellow plains.
At least they’re always there in case I need directions,
she couldn’t help but think tartly. She had spent less than an hour in Purgatory and already the scenery (or lack thereof) annoyed her to no end. She loved lush, secluded forests and the freeness of outer space, not this dimension that made her feel as though she was trapped in some twisted, frozen hourglass.
With no warning, the flat desert beneath her dipped to form a large and deep valley. Here, she saw souls, all of them in the guises of the humans they once were, walking around the village hidden in the deep bowl of earth. Jirachi, startled by the sight of the wooden houses, complete with fences, gardens, and mailboxes, stopped dead in her tracks. If it wasn’t for the gruesome sky, the parched terrain, and the Dusclops guards and their servants around every corner, she would have thought she had accidentally taken a wrong turn and ended up back on Earth. Things like leisure conversations going on in the streets and kids playing in their yards could be seen everywhere. They had work buildings, churches, and schools (all of them worn and weather-beaten as though they had been taken straight from their places on Earth) to allow them to live life as they would have before their deaths. The souls didn’t even seem to see the guards or the world they lived in as they went about their “lives.”
All of it boggled the Legendary’s mind until she focused on the tower at the far end of the valley. Flying above houses and buildings, she reached the odd structure. With stones a decaying gray, it started normally enough with a thick, wooden door built into the cylindrical base. When she slowly flew up, the tower veered off to the right, then to the left, then back again like a drunken serpent. In the process, the tower walls ranged from missing some bricks to having nothing but the twisting, stone stairwell inside. Jirachi shot towards the room on the tower’s tip, which was curiously enough intact (even the pointed roof had most of its dusty-red shingles). Dodging the bricks that had decided to separate from the walls and stairwell to float around, she perched on the sole window of the room. Unsure of how to announce her presence, she tried knocking on the stone, but when she heard the knock was quieter than a pin drop, Jirachi decided to call out into the dark room.
“Hello?” she tried. “I’m sorry to disturb you, Death, but I need to urgently talk to you. It’s of grave importance.”
There was no answer. Jirachi leaned in, squinting against the overwhelming gloom that covered every inch of the place. Other than a faint, metallic glint in one of the walls, there was nothing but black, black, and more black.
“Hello?” the Legendary repeated, more hesitant than ever.
Again, only silence answered. Putting a hand against the window’s edge and the other on her forehead, Jirachi mentally slapped herself for her stupidity. It hadn’t even crossed her mind that Death might be out collecting souls or attending pressing matters in other parts of Purgatory. She might be waiting for weeks, even months, for him to return; she could already imagine countless souls destroyed by that time.